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Seth McFarlane’s Oscar Trifecta: Sexism, Racism, and Tastelessness, Oh My!

NWLC’s water-cooler talk this morning was completely dominated by one thing: the Oscars. Program Assistants Amy Tannenbaum and Becka Wall were particularly fired up by a few things – namely, the sexism, racism, and general objectification of women that was prevalent throughout and decided to hash it out via blog post, below:

Amy: Watching the Oscars last night was such a roller coaster. There were some great moments – but overall I felt like women lost, in more ways than one.

Becka: Agreed. First of all, with the exception of Best Supporting and Best Actress, there was a serious dearth of women nominated – a notable snub was that of Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty, an intense movie that captured not only the 12-year manhunt for Osama Bin Laden, but also the depth of human emotion that came with it.

Amy: Can we talk about the boob song, with Seth MacFarlane highlighting the times that actresses have appeared topless in film? It was like sexual harassment in front of an audience of millions. Charlize Theron and Naomi Watts looked disgusted and uncomfortable. Women in Hollywood are already judged too heavily on their looks. This song further moved emphasis away from what the Oscars is supposed to be about – celebrating talent and film – and turned it into a kind of sexual harassment. Plus, it wasn’t even funny!

Becka: I mean, let’s just take a look at the lyrics to “We Saw Your Boobs”:

“We saw your boobs in the movie – that's what we saw we saw your boobs. Meryl Streep, we saw them in "Silkwood" and Naomi Watts in "Mulholland Drive" and Angelina, we saw them in "Gia." Anne Hathaway, we saw them in "Brokeback Mountain." And Halle Berry in "Monster's Ball." Nicole Kidman in "Eyes Wide Shut" and Marisa Tomei but not Jennifer Lawrence's at all. We saw your boobs. We saw your boobs. Kristen Stewart, we saw them "On the Road" and we saw Charlize Theron's. Helen Hunt we saw them in "The Sessions." Scarlett Johansson we saw them on our phones. Jessica Chastain, we saw your boobs in "Lawless." Hilary Swank and Kate Winslet in "Heavenly Creatures" and "Hamlet" and "Titanic" and whatever you're in right now we saw your boobs. Ladies and gentlemen, the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles. [enter Gay Men’s Chorus] We saw your boobs we saw your boobs, boobs. We saw your boobs, we saw your boobs.”

And, of course, then MacFarlane just had to emphasize to William Shatner that he was not part of the Gay Male Chorus – god forbid!

This could have been an interesting commentary about the fact that we’re more likely to see female nudity than male nudity because it’s deemed more acceptable by Hollywood, but instead it turned into an offensive laundry list of the number of times Seth MacFarlane was able to chortle to himself and say “Heh, boobies” about some of the most respected artists of our time.

And that was just the beginning of Seth’s put down of women. About Ben Affleck/Kim Kardashian:

“This man has gone from starring in "Gigli" to becoming one of the most respected filmmakers of this generation. I feel like we're six months away from having to call him le Benjamin Affleck. I thought we'd cut this joke but really, want to do it? First time I saw him with all that dark facial hair I thought, my god, the Kardashians have finally made the jump to film.”

And he also made a crack about Adele’s weight, saying that critic Rex Reed (the same charmer who called Melissa McCarthy a ‘female hippo’) would critique Adele’s performance of Skyfall, and – perhaps worst of all – he joked about women who conveniently “got the flu” (read: made themselves throw up) to make themselves fit into their gowns. Instead of focusing on actresses’ talent on the evening meant to showcase the greatest talents in the film industry, he focused on their appearance and completely ignored their talents.

Amy: What got my blood boiling the most was the ongoing commentary about Quvenzhané Wallis, who is definitely my favorite nine-year-old on the planet. Which is why it was totally gross and unacceptable to even joke about her dating George Clooney – she is nine! The Onion’s tweet calling her the c-word was the low point of the night for me. The Onion has since apologized, but it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. I can’t help but think it has to do with her race as well – I don’t recall Dakota Fanning or Abigail Breslin being sexualized and degraded in the same way. These jokes, combined with the reference to an orgy at Jack Nicholson’s house – the location of the Roman Polanski child-rape incident – really ruined the evening.

Becka: And so many reporters behaved in a flat-out rude way to Quvenzhané! One couldn’t be bothered to learn how to pronounce her name, so he said he was going to call her “Annie” since she’s slated to play Annie in a new movie version.

Amy: Right – and at least one Academy voter stated that he refused to vote for her because he couldn’t pronounce her name. It’s really not that hard, people – and you better learn how to say it now, because she’ll be here for a long time.

Becka: Let’s also take a second to mention the EXTREMELY offensive joke about domestic violence. MacFarlane said about Django Unchained, “Django is a movie where a woman is subjected to violence, or as we call it, a Chris Brown and Rihanna date movie.” Domestic violence is not a joke, and I seriously wish people would stop treating it like it was. One in four women has experienced domestic violence, and women account for 85% of victims of intimate partner violence. It’s one reason why Congress should reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act – to ensure the continuation of the Office on Violence Against Women and protect victims of domestic violence, dating violence, and sexual assault.

Amy: Eventually, though, I think we all just had to admit that Seth MacFarlane was not being funny OR interesting. There was simply no reason to joke about the lead character in Zero Dark Thirty being proof that women are headaches. It seemed especially crass in light of Bigelow’s lack of recognition from the academy.

Becka: Precisely. Like most of his jokes, it fell flat. Even MacFarlane could tell that the show felt unnecessarily long and started to appear small and sweaty by the end of the ceremony. I’m just so relieved that he didn’t feel the need to introduce Meryl Streep.

Amy: And what was with his bizarre comment about Latino actors’ understandability? I would love to hear Seth MacFarlane attempt Spanish (actually, no I wouldn’t). Salma Hayek, Penelope Cruz, and Javier Bardem are all fluent in English, so saying that he couldn’t understand them says more about him than anything.

Becka: Honestly, between his cracks about Latinos, blatant dehumanization of Quvenzahné, anti-Semitic jokes, and completely missing-the-mark cracks about slavery and race, I think it’s safe to say that at the very least, MacFarlane is pretty ignorant about where the line is with race and ethnicity—or he didn’t care that he crossed over it.

Amy: Even so, I was glad to hear Anne Hathaway’s comment about making stories like Fantine’s a thing of the past. And Quvenzhané is going to rock it in the new interpretation of Annie.

Becka: Agreed! And I’m glad Inocente, the documentary short about a homeless, undocumented immigrant teenage girl in San Diego who dreams of becoming an artist won best Documentary Short. Of course, I wish they hadn’t cut her mic off in the middle of the acceptance speech.

I’m all for trying to push buttons and boundaries, but there’s a way to do that without offending everyone. Seth MacFarlane just completely missed the mark.

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What the fuck? is up with you slave traders?!

I am a 28 yr old mixed race british male sociopath & I would like to side not 'with' grant but 'against' sue & (name)susan. I have finally got around to googling these lyrics (28/1/2014) & saying it is sexual harrassment is bullshit & typical slave-trader over-reactiom to what is simply science fact. It is a fact that we (14-28yr old males & some lesbians) will have seen the named actresses chests. It is also a fact that chris brown is a twat. However rhianna like so many women forgave him, that is her mistake! Women if you want respect then answer me this I am fat & ugly but I would never hurt you, whereas white prettyboy is cute & rich but violent, so who gets the girl? 2 guesses & 1st doesn't count! also women who say "he only hits me coz he loves me" exist so I will only respect you when you cure them of their silliness, and all these sentiments from a retard, as usual protestant black tiger lord cyberius 1, rest of the world 0!!!! :) XD

Sexism

Sexism ran rampant at the Oscars, my favorite show of the year. But if it is as bad next year I will have to give it up.
Come on women we need to stick up for ourselves and stop tolerating men's miss treatment

Rhianna & Chris Brown

Of course domestic violence is a problem, and if people stop making fun of Chris about it, it will be forgotten. Every time someone cracks a joke, he is getting what he deserves, and young women everywhere are made aware of it. Would you rather it not be talked about and forgotten? He NEEDS to be made fun of, unless you want domestic violence to be an acceptable occurrence.

sexist my ass

Explain to me something, how come an actress show her boobs and singing that is sexist? dont be stupid, they show their boobs because they know men like it, there is no other reason, period.
So if a guy decides to show his penis is because it is proud of it, and won't be ashamed ...

Boobs

Women in film show their bodies because of pressure from rich powerful men. They do not deserve bad treatment and how stupid are the men making fun which will stop women from revealing their breasts DUH!

A different POV

I can respect the interpretations about McFarlane's jokes, and the rationale. I do wonder, though, if there is room for other interpretations. For example, I saw the joke about Quevenzahne and Clooney to be a dig at Clooney's penchant for dating young women. It's unfortunate that she was the "vehicle" for the joke, but she was not the subject or butt of the joke, Clooney was.

As for much of the rest of the evening, it seems to me that irony is completely lost on many of the commentators. In general, society is becoming so protective and vigilant with respect to the sensitivities and issues that it is missing the forest for the trees. Did anyone stop to think, for example, that the boobs song was McFarlane's way of commenting on the fact that audiences (esp. male audiences) DO miss the talent of the women in question and think only about the cheap thrill (i.e. calling it as he sees it). Just like "All In The Family", we can debate forever whether social commentary pierces or perpetuates stereotypes and power relationships. I think, though, that simply calling it offensive without considering the subtext or other POVs is not a fair analysis.

Don't Go Topless

95% of topless scenes are just to titilate men. Women need to start saying "no" to topless roles.

I personally thought the song was hi-larious.

Seth Macfarlane Host

It wasn't "like" watching sexual harassment. It WAS sexual
harassment. Witnessed by millions.

Seth the Creep

Amen Susan!!!!

I'm offended too!

"I’m all for trying to push buttons and boundaries, but there’s a way to do that without offending everyone." Well, thankfully, not everyone was apparently offended -- just bloggers trying to reap page-hits. As Stephen Fry once said, ladies: "It's now very common to hear people say, 'I'm rather offended by that.' As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more... than a whine. 'I find that offensive.' It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that.' Well, so f*cking what."

You're such an ignorant fool

Dude you're such an ignorant fool. Bet you wouldn't talk like this if women would be the ones making fun and degrading men. Men need a taste of their own medicine to see how it's like to always be the subject of ridicule.

Seth the Creep

Thank you for being a thinking Man

Sexual Harassment

Seth MacFarlane's hosting was textbook sexual harassment. These women had a business stake in the outcome of that night and were therefore held hostage to play along with their humiliation to be accepted in the workplace. This was all done during an international broadcast, while others laughed and cheered. Had they not had so much at stake they should / would have walked out. But that's how sexual harassment works. You are held hostage by your harasser. Maybe next year women can just go to a business gathering without being humiliated. Maybe.

"Held hostage to play along

"Held hostage to play along with their humiliation?" I'd like you to show me the part where they were being forced, at gunpoint, to experience this event. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Seth the Creep

You are Stupid

Hostage taking

Economically -and their reputation. The Oscars is
Basically a televised business convention. You can
Bet your career will suffer if you protest and don't play along.

Hats off to Seth

The best Oscars I've ever seen, and we owe it to Seth. If you aren't offending someone, then it's not funny. I'm glad they gave him the spotlight so that he could shine in all his glory, and show people that we can make fun of anything and learn to laugh at ourselves. His humor was spot on and just what Hollywood needed!

We saw your boobs was funny!!

As an audience, I never thought we saw your boobs was sexist. It was fun and it was right. All these actress did really show thier breasts and everyone already know it. It was funny just to recognize that in one song. It was NOT OFFENSIVE.

"Charlize Theron and Naomi

"Charlize Theron and Naomi Watts looked disgusted and uncomfortable." That song was prerecorded, not done live. Naomi Watts and Charlize Theron obviously were recorded before hand doing these actions, meaning that they were probably not embarrassed or uncomfortable at all. Just my input, though I will say I found the Oscars funny.

totally agree

besides she decided to show them, she must be proud

I meant too...

Otherwise, your points about McFarlane's misdeeds were right on. Even Ricky Gervais, for all the kerfuffle regarding his GG hosting, knew better than to joke about domestic abuse, etc. Had no one watched Family Guy? Mc's performance and mentality should've been no surprise.

Women get it wrong to...

Not to dispute the overall point of underrepresentation but as far as films like Zero Dark Thirty go, the consensus on its accuracy is that it was piss poor and its message of torture works can only do more untold damage. Lincoln and Argo also were very loose with the facts and veracity but Zero is dangerously misleading.

Family Guy

Have you ever reviewed Family Guy? I find it impossible to watch for more than 45 seconds because it is so relentlessly dehumanizing. When I heard they picked McFarlane to run the Oscars, I thought, why? Now everyone seems surprised that he was rude and offensive and juvenile. Have they ver seen the show?

respect

Maybe female stars will now stand up to unnecessary nudity & turn down roles..... As far as Quevenzahne is concerned... Will & Jada Smith just announced she will star is their production of Annie... talent will win out....

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